Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014 — ST 4572

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4572
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Dean Mayer (Anax)
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4572]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Dave Perry's Solving Time
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Date of Publication in The Vancouver Sun
Saturday, February 8, 2014[Note 2]
Falcon's Experience
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Times for the Times
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Times for the Times
[1] This puzzle appears on the Sunday puzzles pages in the Saturday, February 8, 2014 edition of the Ottawa Citizen.
[2] Due to the paywall that has been erected on its web site, I am no longer able to verify the puzzle that is published in The Vancouver Sun.


Knowing that the duty roster would have Anax in the setter's chair today, I was prepared for a workout — and he certainly didn't disappoint. As you will see from the chart above, my electronic assistants were called into action early and often today. However, with their support, I did complete the puzzle.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary should be read in conjunction with the full review at Times for the Times, to which a link is provided in the table above. The underlined portion of the clue is the definition.


1a   Said to include part like M25? (7)

The M25 motorway[7] or London Orbital motorway is a 117-mile (188 km) motorway that almost encircles Greater London, England, in the United Kingdom.

In Britain, a motorway[5] is a dual-carriageway road [divided highway] designed for fast traffic, with relatively few places for joining or leaving [controlled access].

In British English, orbital[10] is another name for an orbital road[10], a highway that circles a metropolitan area; in other words, a ring road   ⇒ a new orbital road round Paris.

This is an example of an adjective being transformed into a noun. Although I definitely believe this practice to be more prevalent in the UK than in North America, it is not entirely absent here. For instance the Trans-Canada Highway is commonly called the Trans-Canada and, similarly, Americans often refer to an interstate highway simply as an interstate. 

5a   College party — left after one round (7)

Balliol College[7], founded in 1263, is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England.

9a   Hound by itself, adorable (9)

10a   Perhaps bent  copper may rely on him? (5)

A "copper", of course, is a police officer. In the surface reading, bent[5] is used in an informal British sense meaning dishonest or corrupt [in North America, one would undoubtedly say crooked] a bent cop.

In the UK, grass[5] is used informally as a noun to mean a police informer and as a verb meaning to inform the police of someone’s criminal activities or plans ⇒ someone had grassed on the thieves. This expression may derive from rhyming slang (grasshopper = copper).

11a   Technical term for "booby"? (12)

In his review, Dave Perry considers this "Something of a weak clue ...". I might add, a rather unexplainable clue from my perspective. However, I will make an attempt.

Solecistical[10] is another word for solecistic, an adjective that can be either (1) a grammatical term that means relating to the nonstandard use of a grammatical construction or (2) a formal term that denotes relating to any mistake, incongruity, or absurdity.

I was unable to find any evidence of booby being used as an adjective. However, in the UK, boob[10] means an embarrassing mistake or blunder. Consequently, I suppose that booby might conceivably be used as adjective; for instance, "a booby performance" being one riddled with boobs.

As another possibility, booby might be another term for boob (in the sense of a mistake). In which case, perhaps we should interpret the clue as though it were phrased "technical term that might be applied to a 'booby'".

By the way, does Dave Perry make a Freudian slip when he refers to "booby" as a "breast" (when I think he intended to say "breach")?

14a   Half of country hampered by present decline (8)

I arrived at a different explanation than did Dave Perry — one which I believe is also valid.

Since "hampered" means "held back", it is both a containment indicator (held) and a reversal indicator (back). On this basis, I parsed the clue as GNA {a reversal (hampered) of ANG (half of ANG[OLA])} contained in (hampered) STATE (present).

15a   Chain that Romeo is not after (6)

Romeo[5] is a code word representing the letter R, used in radio communication.

Of course, it comes before — not after:

Sierra[5] is a code word representing the letter S, used in radio communication.

Especially in Spanish-speaking countries or the western US, sierra[5] is a name for a long jagged mountain chain. 

17a   I shout about lunch? (6)

In Britain, oi[5] (also oy) is an informal expression used to attract someone’s attention, especially in a rough or angry way (i) oi, don’t lean out; (ii) oi, taxi!.

The symbol for the chemical element iodine is I[5].

18a   Bunker is a mountain around second tee (8)

Ben[5] is a Scottish term (used especially in place names) for a high mountain or mountain peak Ben Nevis. By the way, Ben Nevis[5] is a mountain in western Scotland. Rising to 1,343 m (4,406 ft), it is the highest mountain in the British Isles.

In Britain, bunk[5] (usually bunk off) means to abscond or play truant from school or work he bunked off school all week.

20a   How first letters appear, for example (12)

Although I did solve the clue, I didn't understand the significance of the word "first" until I read Dave Perry's review.

23a   Username one changed to "bonehead" (5)

24a   Reduced temperature in putting on pepper (9)

Pepper is an example of a stimulant, thus Dave Perry's reference to "DBE" (definition by example).

The wordplay is T (reduced [first letter of] Temperature) contained in (in) SIMULANT (putting on).

Simulant[5] is an adjective meaning simulating — which I assume is a present participle used as an adjective. I must say that I at a total loss as to how one might use "simulating" as an adjective.

While "putting on" and "simulating" are synonymous as verbs, I can't fathom that "putting on" could possibly be used as an adjective — but, then, I also questioned "simulating".

25a   Rejected song for one home nation (7)

26a   Was annoyance driven by desire? (7)


1d   Huge houses work? I'm wrong (4)

The wordplay is OS (huge) containing (houses) OP (work).

The sizes of clothing that North Americans would describe as plus-size[7] (or often big and tall in the case of men's clothing) would be called outsize (OS[5]) in Britain.

In music, Op.[5] (also op.) is an abbreviation meaning opus (work). It is used before a number given to each work of a particular composer, usually indicating the order of publication.

2d   No fun being carried (4)

3d   Hairy Hen, term for giant hangover (3,7,5)

I could find no evidence that "Hairy Hen" refers to anything in particular.

4d   A river with new crossing? I'm honoured (8)

The River Ure[7] is a stream in North Yorkshire, England, approximately 74 miles (119 km) long from its source to the point where it changes name to the River Ouse.

5d   Potion is northern broth (6)

In various dialects (Northern English in particular, as well as Canadian and US), brewis[10] (or brevis) means a thickened broth.

6d   Easy reading, I agree, till truth comes out (5,10)

Although I did not find the term "light literature" in any dictionary, I did find a couple of examples of its use.

An article in Wikipedia on Samuel Fancourt[7], who established the first circulating library in London in the mid-eighteenth century, states "The library contained two or three thousand bound volumes and about the same number of pamphlets; from a third to a half of the books and pamphlets consisted of theology and ecclesiastical history and controversy, and only about a tenth of it was ‘light’ literature."

Goodreads, self-proclaimed as "the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations", has a "Light Literature" category.

7d   Is it OK for me to turn clergyman out? (10)

The wordplay is a reversal (to turn) of CAN I (is it OK for me) + CURATE (clergyman).

A curate[5] is a member of the clergy engaged as assistant to a vicar, rector, or parish priest.

8d   Joe and what he was — a real bargain (4,6)

Joe Loss[7] (1909–1990) was a British musician popular during the British dance band era, and was founder [and leader] of the Joe Loss Orchestra.

12d   Energy — I'm in place to make a guess (10)

13d   Health & Safety call about papa's tumble (10)

Papa[5] is a code word representing the letter P, used in radio communication.

16d   Glass bottle may be in this bin as I do juggling (8)

I interpret the definition to mean "glass bottle may be [made from] this [material]".

Obsidian[5] is a hard, dark, glass-like volcanic rock formed by the rapid solidification of lava without crystallization. According to an article on the website of The Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford, "When knapped finely using a bone or antler pressure-flaker, its crystalline structure produces an edge that is just as sharp as metal. For this reason it has been used for tools and weapons for thousands of years." However, it is hard to imagine this material being used to make bottles — other than in fantasy role-playing games such as Fallen Sword.

19d   Old country, a country that was unfinished (6)

Siam[5] was the former name (until 1939) for Thailand.

21d   "Am I bovvered?", Lauren's first communication (4)

"Am I bovvered?" is the catchphrase of Lauren Cooper[7], a fictional character created by English comedian Catherine Tate[7]. The replacement of "th" by "v" (or, in this case, "vv" — presumably done to preserve the short "o" sound) is a characteristic of the Cockney dialect (among others).

22d   Boss sees work unfinished (4)
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for this week — Falcon


  1. I need help with a clue(s). Can you assist?? Thanks!

    1. I would be pleased to help. Just provide the details of the clue in a comment.

  2. Is there any way I could email you the clue? I don't want to make it public, email is If not, I guess here is fine!

  3. Sorry, I meant Whoops! And this is not at all spam. Just stuck on a clue!